What We’re Seeing

Group Overview

Harris Williams is a leading advisor to the food and beverage market. Our significant experience covers a broad range of end markets, industries, and business models. This particular report focuses on trends and metrics in the following areas:

  • Agribusiness
  • Bakery
  • Beverages
  • Branded and Private Label
  • Dairy
  • Distribution
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and Protein
  • Natural and Organic
  • Processing
  • Produce
  • Restaurant and Retail
  • Snacks

Market Update1

The M&A landscape in the food and beverage industry is active and is witnessing several notable transactions: Yum Brands to acquire Habit Restaurants, owner and operator of fast casual restaurants, for $546.5M. IFF to acquire the Nutrition & Biosciences business of Dupont, comprising healthy and sustainable solutions for the food and beverage industry, for $26.2B. E. & J. Gallo Winery to acquire the Wine & Spirits portfolio of Constellation Brands,  a collection of several discount brands, for $1.1B.

What We’ve Been Doing

Closed Harris Williams Transactions


2019 Year in Review

Food and Beverage M&A Remained Active in 2019

The food and beverage M&A market in 2019 experienced the highest deal activity of the decade, with over 850 transactions closing throughout the year. Investors focused on smaller size acquisition targets relative to trailing periods, but were increasingly willing to pay a premium for high-quality food and beverage assets. This flight to quality resulted in a median multiple of 11.2x in 2019, exceeding the trailing five year average of 10.0x. Strategic buyers continued to be very active across the industry as 85% of transactions ended in a strategic outcome, up from 76% in 2018. Private equity investors remain interested in the food and beverage space as the average number of food and beverage private equity investments has more than doubled from pre-2016 levels. Non-traditional food and beverage private equity firms are continuing to expand their scope of industry focus to include food and beverage largely given recession resiliency of the category.      

During 2019, there were several notable transactions in the food and beverage industry. In December 2019, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF) agreed to a merger with Dupont Inc.’s Nutrition & Biosciences business, creating a leading ingredients and solutions provider valued at over $45B. Together, the companies will be a key leader in supplying the evolving consumer demand for natural and clean ingredient solutions. In December, Nestle agreed to sell its U.S. ice cream business to U.K. based ice cream producer Froneri Ltd. for $4B. The acquisition significantly expands Froneri’s footprint in an attractive U.S. ice cream market. In July 2019, Performance Food Group entered into an agreement to acquire Reinhart Foodservice for $2B. The acquisition will expand geographic reach and overall scale, enhance attractive customer bases and product offerings, and provide significant cost savings in operations and logistics.

Evolving consumer tastes and preferences continue to dominate the food and beverage landscape. Throughout 2019, there were several prevailing trends responsible for driving industry growth and M&A. Plant-based alternatives continue to disrupt the meat and dairy sector as advances in technology led to tastier, better quality products and new product development. During 2019, M&A activity increased in the plant-based sector driven by large food and beverage companies and investors’ desire to gain exposure to the high-growth category. Consumers’ continued push for healthier and more sustainable diets is anticipated to drive meaningful growth in the global plant-based alternatives market over the next several years.   

Prevailing Food and Beverage Trends Driving Growth in 2019


Harris Williams Closed Food and Beverage Transactions - 2019 


Vital Signs

Restaurant and Grocery Store Sales Indices4


Consumer Food Price Index Inflation2

screen_shot_2020-01-27_at_12.43.57_pm.pngVital Signs

Key Trading Statistics1


Public Equity Market Overview

Public Company Sector Performance (Median One Year Change in Stock Price)1


Recent Equity Offerings5


Food and Beverage Industry Stock Performance Index1


M&A Market Overview

Highlighted Food and Beverage M&A Transactions1

Yum Brands To Acquire Habit Restaurants

  • Yum Brands to acquire Habit Restaurants for $546.5M
  • Based in Irvine, CA the Habit Restaurants owns and operates fast casual restaurants specializing in made-to-order burgers and sandwiches
  • The acquisition will allow Yum Brands to utilize its scale and strengths in franchising and brand-building to grow the chain domestically and internationally

IFF to Acquire Nutrition & Biosciences Business of Dupont

  • International Flavors & Fragrances (“IFF”) to acquire the Nutrition & Biosciences (“N&B”) business from Dupont de Nemours, Inc. (“Dupont”) for $26.2B
  • Based in Wilmington, Delaware, the N&B business of Dupont comprises healthy and sustainable solutions for the food, beverage, dietary supplement, and pharmaceutical industries 
  • The combination of IFF and the N&B of Dupont will create a global leader across all the ingredients space with the broadest portfolio in the industry and superior R&D resources than its competitors

E.&J. Gallo Winery to Acquire Wine & Spirits from Constellation Brands

  • E. & J. Gallo Winery to acquire the Wine & Spirits portfolio from Constellation Brands for $1.1B
  • Based in Victor, NY, the Wine & Spirits portfolio of Constellation Brands consists of a collection of brands including Clos de Bois, Mark West, Wil Horse, and others
  • The acquisition will allow Constellation Brands to enhance its focus on a more premium set of brands, while E. & J. Gallo significantly expands its portfolio providing greater diversification

Food and Beverage M&A Trends1


Latest Deals and Announced Private Equity Activity1

Last 10 Deals Announced

screen_shot_2020-01-27_at_1.15.47_pm.pngPrivate Equity Investments & Exits


Debt Market Overview

Food and Beverage Loan Activity6


Recent Debt Offerings7


M&A Overview

Median LTM Trading Multiples & Quarterly Food & Beverage M&A1


Recent Food and Beverage M&A1



Food and Beverage Earnings Release Calendar

Earnings Release Calendar1


Public Comparables1






1. Capital IQ

2. Unweighted Average

3. U.S. Census Bureau

4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5. Thomson Financial

6. S&P



The information and views contained in this report were prepared by Harris Williams LLC (“Harris Williams”). It is not a research report, as such term is defined by applicable law and regulations, and is provided for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities or financial instruments or to participate in any particular trading strategy. The information contained herein is believed by Harris Williams to be reliable but Harris Williams makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of such information. Harris Williams and/or its affiliates may be market makers or specialists in, act as advisers or lenders to, have positions in and effect transactions in securities of companies mentioned herein and also may provide, may have provided, or may seek to provide investment banking services for those companies. In addition, Harris Williams and/or its affiliates or their respective officers, directors and employees may hold long or short positions in the securities, options thereon or other related financial products of companies discussed herein. Opinions, estimates and projections in this report constitute Harris Williams’ judgment and are subject to change without notice. The securities and financial instruments discussed in this report may not be suitable for all investors and investors must make their own investment decisions using their own independent advisors as they believe necessary and based upon their specific financial situations and investment objectives. Also, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. No part of this material may be copied or duplicated in any form or by any means, or redistributed, without Harris Williams’ prior written consent.

Harris Williams LLC is a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Harris Williams & Co. Ltd is a private limited company incorporated under English law with its registered office at 5th Floor, 6 St. Andrew Street, London EC4A 3AE, UK, registered with the Registrar of Companies for England and Wales (registration number 07078852). Harris Williams & Co. Ltd is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Harris Williams & Co. Corporate Finance Advisors GmbH is registered in the commercial register of the local court of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, under HRB 107540. The registered address is Bockenheimer Landstrasse 33-35, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany (email address: hwgermany@harriswilliams.com). Geschäftsführer/Directors: Jeffery H. Perkins, Paul Poggi. (VAT No. DE321666994). Harris Williams is a trade name under which Harris Williams LLC, Harris Williams & Co. Ltd and Harris Williams & Co. Corporate Finance Advisors GmbH conduct business.